Pentagon classifies nuke ops over possible safety failures – AP
The Pentagon is now hiding the safety records of its nuclear weapons, AP has reported, with experts quoting potential failures as the reason for such secrecy. The reports were previously publicly available.
The reason for the change as cited by the authorities is to avoid disclosing too much about US nuclear capabilities.
“We are comfortable with the secrecy… As long as nuclear weapons exist, the US will maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear stockpile,” Navy Capt Greg Hicks, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, as cited by AP.
Many experts, however, don’t see this as a viable reason for keeping the nuclearprogram under wraps.
Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert with the Federation of American Scientists, told AP the situation “smells bad” and the authorities are “acting like they have something to hide, and it’s not national security secrets.”
“I think the new policy fails to distinguish between protecting valid secrets and shielding incompetence. Clearly, nuclear weapons technology secrets should be protected. But negligence or misconduct in handling nuclear weapons should not be insulated from public accountability,” Aftergood added.
AP reported on US nuclear shortcomings twice before, in 2013 and 2014, when the data was still open to the public. Those reports detailed problems such as security lapses, leadership and training failures, and low morale.
This, in turn, led US top brass to look into the matter.
Following the review that appeared in 2014, then-US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel began an independent inquiry into the issues. However, the findings remain classified, according to AP.
The secrecy only became obvious when an Air Force personnel office published a June 14 notice on its website stating that the ‘grade,’ or final result, of a nuclear review couldn’t be mentioned in any unclassified personnel document.
The regulation came into effect in March, and is valid for the US Navy and Air Force, which both operate nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon took the step after a change in “an instruction,” which spokesman Hicks described as a document for “limited” circulation and not subject to release. AP’s request for a copy was denied.